We all need a little exhorting

The older I get the more I understand the phrase, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The choice of following Christ is not to be taken lightly. It’s all too easy to believe in the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross and then live like it doesn’t matter; but in the end, we may find that by living like it doesn’t matter means we never believed in the first place.

Belief in Christ as Lord and Savior means everything changes. I change. The way I look at the world changes. My priorities change. My reaction to sin changes. It must, for the Holy Spirit cannot live in a soul that hasn’t made Christ Lord. If I’m still the center of my life, then that means Christ is not.

The writer of the book of Hebrews was encouraging followers of Christ to continue to walk by the faith they professed, as it was clear that times would be difficult and attacks would come. I could not help but notice a number of statements he made to help them along the way. Today, they are helping me, and I trust will help you as well.

  • We must pay more careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (2:1)
    • Am I listening to the sermons I hear? Am I taking them to heart? Meditating on the message throughout the week?
    • What about Bible study? Am I regularly digging deep into the Word on my own and with other believers?
  • Fix your thoughts on Jesus. (3:1)
    • Do I think about Jesus at all during the day? I should.
  • Do not harden your hearts. (3:8)
    • Am I allowing God to speak to my heart?
    • Am I open to his reproof and correction?
  • See to it that you do not have a sinful, unbelieving heart. (3:12)
    • Am I confessing my sins when they happen?
    • Am I keeping my slate clean?
  • Encourage one another daily, so that no one will be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (3:13)
    • Am I allowing myself to be held accountable to my fellow believers?
    • Am I holding them accountable?
  • Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (4:14)
  • Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. (6:1)
  • Let us draw near to God in full assurance of faith. (10:22) and
  • Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (10:23) and
  • Let us consider how we can spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (10:24)
  • Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. (10:25)
  • Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and
  • Let us run the race with perseverance. (12:1)
  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus. (12:2)
  • Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. (13:15)

I love how this letter ends: “Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.”

I’m glad he only wrote that short letter of exhortation, for I am not sure I could bear a long one! I don’t know about you, but I could spend a week on each one of these phrases, asking the Lord to show me how to make it a deeper and more purposeful part of my life. I’m a work in progress, and so is the expression of salvation in my life. I have full assurance of my salvation, because of the saving work of Christ, but my daily expression of that hope sometimes needs a push from the Spirit.

For now, I’m holding firmly to the faith I profess, fixing my eyes and thoughts on Jesus, and continuing to run for the cause of Christ.

May this word of exhortation encourage you today to keep your heart from being hardened by the noise of this world and open to the purposes of God.

Grace and Peace

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